Mandatory mask bylaw will be before council on Monday

If the council for the Town of Peace River is going to give its blessing to a mandatory face coverings bylaw, it will have to wait until Monday.

The prospective bylaw would call for masks in public premises and public vehicles to be in effect if the amount of COVID-19 cases in the Municipal District of Peace, #135 is at 10 active cases or more.

According to Alberta Heath Services, the MD of Peace has 43 current cases as of Monday’s update.

The bylaw includes a clause that would deactivate the mandatory mask rule if cases were to drop below 10, and stay below the threshold for 14 consecutive days.

The meeting, which was held via video conferencing, gave councillors lots of opportunities to ask questions and gain clarity around the rules.

Quite a few changes were made to the bylaw during the meeting and when it came to the first two readings, they were unanimous.

When it came time for the third reading, Councillor Orren Ford voted against the bylaw, but with the understanding it would be brought back for debate a week from last night.

Ford tells the Trending 55 Newsroom that this is a contentious issue within the town and it is important for everyone to be on board.

“We had a survey go out before and it was pretty much 50-50, depending on your circumstance,” says Ford.

“I voted against third reading because I want to hear more from the citizens on all the changes that were made.”

Mayor Tom Tarpey, who has been an advocate of making masks mandatory, says he understands and respects Ford’s position.

“I think Councillor Ford had a good reason for not giving unanimous consent on third reading,” says Tarpey.

However, Tarpey adds that the time to act was two months ago, when a similar bylaw was defeated by council.

“People have politicized the mask debate and that has hampered the passage of proactive measures,” says the mayor.

“There is a good chance if we had put in the mask bylaw two months ago, we would not be anywhere near 40 cases.”

– Kenny Trenton, Trending 55 Newsroom

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